O'Rourke's Noble Feast (The)
X:1 T:Plea Rarkeh na Rourkough M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:Neal – Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (1724, p. 6) K:G G2B2d2|d2B2G2|c4c2|cd e2c2|d2B2d2|ef g2e2|fga2f2|g6| gfga b2|a2b2g2|f2g2e2|d2c2B2|c2A2d2|B2G2d2|e6|f6| g3ag2|g2B2d2|g2e2a2|Tf3e d2|e4e2|d2efg2|dcBAGF|G4|| D2|EF G2G2|G2D2G2|GFGABc|d2B2G2|FGA2A2|A2E2A2|A^GABcd|e2c2A2| d4d2|d2ed c2|B4B2|B2 cBAG|A4 A2|A2 BAG2|F3 GFE|D4 D2| EF G2G2|G2D2G2|F4G2|A2F2D2|d4c2|Bcd2g2|fga2f2|g6|| GABc d2|dcBA G2|cBcd c2|cd e2 dc|dcBc d2|edcdef/g/|fedefg/a/| gGGG G2|gfga b2|abc'bag|fgagfe|dBcABG|cBcAdc|BABGBd| ecBcec|fdcdfd|g3a g2|gdBd G2|gfefga| fdAF D2|ecBcdcd/c/|d2 ef g2|dcBAGF G4:| |:d2|efgggg|G2D2G2|GFGABc|dcBA G2|fgaaaa|A2E2A2|A^GABcd| edcB A2|defg a2|d2 ed c2|Bdef g2|B2 cBAG|AdAF D2|A2 BAG2| F3 GFE|D4d2|efgggg|G2D2G2|F2G2A2B2c2B2| AGFE D2|dcdedc|Bcdefg|fgBgAf|g6:| GgfgdB|GDB,D G,2|cf/g/adcB|cd e2c2|dB/c/defg|ec/d/efga| fd/e/f2 a2g2f2|g6|g/f/g/a/ ga b2|a/b/a/b/ c'bag|f/g/f/g/ agfe|dbcaBg| cA/B/cAdc|BG/A/BcdB|ec/d/efga|fd/e/fgaf|g3ag2|gd/c/Bdgf| ee/d/ceag|f3ed2|ecBcda|d2efg2|dcBAGF|G4:| |:d2|e/f/e/f/ gdBG|G2D2G2|GFGABc|dgdB G2|f/g/f/g/ aecA|A2E2A2| A^GABcd|eaecA2|d/c/d/e/ dfaf|d2edc2|B/A/B/c/ Bdgd|B2 cBAG|AcAF D2| A2 BA G2|F3 GFE|D4 d2|e/f/e/f/ gdBG|G2D2G2|FD/E/ FDGD| AGFE D2|da/g/fedc|BB/c/defg|fgagaf|g4:|]
O'ROURKE'S (NOBLE) FEAST, THE (Pléaráca na Ruarcach). AKA - "Feast of O'Rourke." AKA and see "Planxty O'Rourke (2)." Irish, Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The music for this bacchanalian song (whose title also can be translated as "O'Rourke's Revel Rout") was composed by blind harper Turlough O'Carolan  (who was said to have liked his whiskey) with lyrics by his friend Aodh Mac Gabhrain (MacGauran) of Leitring. O'Sullivan (1958) finds the earliest printing of the tune in John and William Neal's Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (Dublin c. 1726, p. 6) with the title "Plea Rarkeh na Rourkough or Ye Irish Weding" 'improved' with a bass and chorus by an Italian music master named Sigr. Lorenzo Bocchi, who probably resided in Dublin in Carolan's time. The song "The O'Rourkes Feast" is the only known case in which Carolan composed the air for words of another poet. Walker (Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards, Dublin, 1786) states that the writer of the words to the song was one of Carolan's earliest friends, named Hugh MacGauran, "a gentleman of the county of Leitrim, who had a happy poetical talent, and excelled particularly in the ludicrous species of poetry." MacGauran wrote a piece called “Plearaca na Ruarcach” (O’Rourke’s Feast) which he asked the harper to set to music, and the resulting song achieved some popularity. Dean Swift heard of it and asked Macgauran to provide him with an English translation, which inspired him to write a version of his own. O’Neill (1913) says MacGauran’s original piece has been lost, but O’Carolan’s music has survived. Dean Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels) translated and adapted the words in 1720, which begins:
Pléaráca na Ruarcach i gcuimhne gach uile dhuine
Dá dtiocfaidh, dá dtáinic, 's dá maireann go fóill
(The revels of O'Rourke are in the memory of every person
who will come, who has come, and who lives yet)
See Dublin Magazine , July, 1842, pp. 59-61 for notes.
The poem is based on the Christmas festivities held in the Great Hall of the castle as Dromahaire, County Leitrim, by the Irish chieftain Brian na Murtha O Ruairc, Prince of Breffni, and the ancestor of several of Carolan's friends, according to O'Sullivan. These festivities are referred to in the Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, of April 6th, 1589: "How naughtily O'Rourke hath always carried himself...He caused a picture of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth I] to be drawn at a horse tail and kept his Christmas according the the Pope's computation' (i.e. the Gregorian Calendar). O'Rourke certainly had no love for the English! O'Sullivan (using Bagwell's Ireland Under the Tudors, vol. III 216-217 as a source) writes:
O'Rourke gave shelter and arms to many of the Spaniards stranded on the west coast after the wreck of the Armada (1588). He waged practically incessant warfare against the forces of Elizabeth, and in February, 1590-1 he crossed over to Scotland to seek aid from King James VI. But James delivered him to the English-it is said for money-and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London till the following November, when his trial took place in Westminster Hall. O'Rourke, whom Sidney described as the proudest man he had ever dealt with, understood no English and refused to recognize the court. He was indicted on a charge of treason for refusing to surrender the Spaniards, and he was told that the indictment was sufficient if he refused to plead. "If it must be so," he said, "let it be so", and he was accordingly condemned and hanged at Tyburn, with all the usual barbarities.
The tune was recorded by the Belfast Northern Star of July 15, 1792, as having been played in competition by one of ten Irish harp masters at the last great convocation of ancient Irish harpers, the Belfast Harp Festival, held that week.